Salish Cliffs Golf Club, named #1 new golf course in 2011 by Golfweek and GOLF Magazine, entered 2012 as Golfweek’s #4 course you can play in the state of Washington. A project that started in 2006, the Squaxin Island Tribe spared no expense in allowing course architect Gene Bates to create a world class golf course just 20 minutes northwest of Olympia, WA. Salish Cliffs, which is an addition to and shares a property with the tribes Little Creek Casino and Hotel opened to the public in September 2011. The golf course lies right off of Hwy. 101 and is an hour and twenty minute drive from Seattle, WA and a two hour drive from Portland, OR. One of the most talked about openings in the last year has launched Salish Cliffs Golf Club, Shelton, WA and the entire Puget Sound Area into the forefront of ideal places to play golf in the Pacific Northwest.
Only one year after opening to the public, Salish Cliffs Golf Club has already matured into a top level course with pristine fairways and greens, all enhanced by a beautiful Northwest setting in the Kamilche Valley. The golf course navigates up and down over 600 feet of hillside, but the individual holes feel more resort style rather than mountain, while still benefiting from its picturesque views. The bentgrass turf that covers the golf course, more frequently found in tropical climates, is an amenity all in itself. Range balls are also included with greens fees and golfers will be able to get a feel for this unique turf as they warm up on the range. Customer friendly service also stands out here whether you are guest of the resort or not. The complete golf experience you receive at Salish Cliffs would certainly cost you much more in larger, more popular travel destinations. At Salish Cliffs however, it appears that they are focused on providing a unique high quality round for not only visitors to the area, but locals as well. The resort will be attracting visitors from all over the Northwest with a variety of discounted stay and play packages that will be available on their website.
While playing the golf course you will notice that all holes are very distinct and you will almost certainly remember each for very different reasons. The fairways and greens are large and roll true, but the design of the course forces you to be accurate and will penalize you for missing them. There are five options of tee boxes for almost all levels of golfers, ranging from 5300 to nearly 7300 yards. The greens are quick and challenging, but all golfers will enjoy how true they roll. There are also many closely mown collection areas and entrances that allow players to run up their approaches or even putt from just off the greens. There are a few long forced carries off the tees as well as a couple of tight alleyways that will demand all golfers strike the ball well in order to avoid trouble. The many bunkers throughout the course appear intimidating and have a very unique design, but most are very playable and only the deepest green side bunkers must be avoided. The most severe penalties on this course will be found in the thick fescue that guards the holes beyond the rough and fairway bunkers. The chances of playing out of these areas even if you find your ball is not good, so for the enjoyment of golfers Salish Cliffs has implemented a lateral hazard rule for all these areas. In fact, there is no O.B. on the course. All 18 holes at Salish Cliffs will require you to plan ahead and most will offer you risks that will be rewarded or penalized. A cart is a necessity at Salish Cliffs. The fully loaded carts are top of the line, and the user friendly GPS system used is as good as any you will see on a golf course. The playing tips from the GPS in the carts is automated as you approach each tee box and along with the yardages should be taken advantage of by every golfer.
Playing Salish Cliffs Golf Club
As you start your round on the gorgeous 1st hole, be sure to avoid the large maple tree on the right side. If you play 3 shots from the fairway, you will get your day off to a great start. Longer hitters and those looking to score well will have to take advantage of the elevated tee boxes on the first three holes. The second hole is reachable for longer hitters, while most will be left with a very short approach. Long hitters will also have a big advantage on the first par 3, the 3rd hole, which plays from 184 all the way up to 291 yards from the tips. The front nine does also include the shortest par 3 on the course, but your distance control will be tested on the 6th hole with a severe downhill tee shot. The 8th hole is the longest on the course and requires you to be accurate along the gradual dogleg. Being conservative here may payoff as playing from off this fairway can get frustrating quickly. The front nine ends with a daunting tee shot that is critical in order to be able to enjoy this beautiful golf hole. Finding the fairway here leaves you with a short approach to a large green that fortunately you will get to enjoy again while finishing on 18.
The back nine may leave you feeling like every other hole you play was the most difficult of the day. Starting with the 10th, pay close attention and make sure you find the fairway off the tee. This tee box may have been the birthplace of the local lateral hazard rule. Accuracy here is much more important than distance. The par 4 12th and 14th are both difficult driving holes, it is tough to find the fairway let alone the left side which will give you a much better look at these two approach shots. The 15th tee gives you a fantastic view of the entire golf hole and although it may not play as one of the most difficult, it incorporates all the beautiful and enjoyable aspects of the course at once. The distance of the par 4 16th will force you to try and blast your tee shot. Between a lost ball off the tee or a longer approach shot, the later will leave you feeling much better after you get up and down for par. The finishing hole at Salish Cliffs allows you to head home feeling great. Paying close attention to yardages will help you set up a great birdie opportunity. Favor the left side all the way and take pictures of the water, don’t give it your golf balls.